Hi there, CSA members, let me introduce myself. My name is Tristan and I am the new intern here at Full Belly Farm. I have been here already for a whole three weeks. I came from the Monterey Bay area, having lived there for the past couple years. My experience with farming up until now has been minimal, and having just arrived to this new and welcoming place, I am reminded of what a farm is. A farm is far from “simple”. Even though I believe simplicity is what makes farming such a valuable pursuit – growing food in order for people to nourish themselves – a farm is very complex. It is an ecosystem by its own right. I have worked on two farms before this, and I can safely say that farming is unlike many jobs I have had due to its inherent nature. It combines work with living in such a way that it creates something unique and different from any other farm. Although each farm is producing food of some sort, it is also producing a culture, and a reflection of the space in which it is situated. It is a uniquely beautiful entity, a farm, no matter how big or small. And Full Belly is no exception.
My experience has so far been on smaller coastal farms growing mainly row crops, but also some orchard fruit. The first farm had six acres in production with a total of five workers. The second had about thirty acres in production, with 8 workers. Due to the heavy moisture during the Winter along the coast, my positions with those two farms began in March and April respectively. Now, Full Belly has 350 acres in production, growing row crops, flowers, orchard fruit and nuts, and raising animals, with a crew of about 50, in the winter. And, being that it is January, it is already a very different experience for me to be able to start planting at this time of the year. Transplanting broccoli into the field the other day, I was amazed at the work we were doing in the middle of winter. Throughout this past week, I have seen tomatoes being seeded, lettuces being planted, and strawberries being uncovered. And while this is happening, we are picking beautiful produce out of the field for your CSA boxes, for markets, for deliveries around the Bay Area. It feels a lot like Spring to me right now. But officially, Spring has not begun. So then I ask the question, if this is so-called winter-time, then what is Spring like at Full Belly? And, how about Summer? Obviously, all of this will be answered in time for me. But I have a feeling that my coastal farming days are going to be difficult to compare to farming in inland California. I have stepped into another complex ecosystem that will undoubtedly reorient my understanding of farming.
I have also been speaking a lot of Spanish recently. This has been great for me. It has been a while since I have spoken Spanish to this extent, and it is nice to remind myself that I am glad I have the ability to communicate. There are a lot of Spanish-speaking folk at Full Belly. I have been learning many names over the past three weeks and I am sure I haven’t yet heard nor remembered all of the names. Many of the farm workers have been working almost throughout the history of the farm. There are many stories to be heard and much to be learned. All of this is to say that I am excited for the start to this new year, excited to learn about the complexities and inner-workings of this amazing place, and looking forward to sharing in the bounty of Full Belly!
– Tristan van Stirum
Tristan and his fellow interns- Becca, Jordan, Tyler, and Ingrid spent last week transplanting broccoli. The plants look so fragile in the field – though with some rain and sunshine, that will quickly change.